Drones have opened the door to some incredible footage from (well) above sea level, but their talents run much deeper than that for underwater photographers and explorers. The Fathom One is designed to make amateur photography beneath the waves a bit more accessible, with a modular design and an HD camera for adventurers taking the plunge into underwater exploration.
Because the list of potential uses for underwater drones is so wide, the One is designed to open the door for a wide range of different add-ons. Central to the design is a modular thruster attachment system, working with an integrated rail system on the drone's underside to provide a mounting point for GoPros or extra lights. Modular design also means it's easier to pack the drone up and transport it.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Although the focus is on modular design and add-ons, the Fathom base unit is nothing to be sniffed at. There's an inbuilt 1080p HD camera to keep an eye on proceedings, and dual high-intensity LED lights mean deep trenches and hidden nooks aren't out of bounds.
The unit will operate at a maximum depth of 150 meters (492 ft), and the thrusters can propel the drone's impact-resistant shell at up to 5.4 km/h (3.4 mph). Battery life is expected to be around 45 minutes, with Fathom claiming the One's ability to maintain its depth with minimal throttle helps save power.
Control comes courtesy of a smartphone app connected to a towable Wi-Fi buoy with a range of up to 30 meters (100 ft). The buoy itself is on a 30 meter tether, which might seem a bit impractical but does also mean a flat battery or drone error won't leave your drone lying idle on the ocean floor. Instead, it can simply be reeled in and fixed on the surface.
Although the Fathom One isn't available just yet, its creators say it isn't far away. A pitch on Kickstarter goes live on August 30 and retail pricing will start at US$600, making it significantly cheaper than the $999 Seawolf or the scuba-oriented iBubble.
Take a look at the camera in action below.